'Great dog' laid to rest
Police remember K-9 as crimefighting machine

DACULA - Officers smiled as they remembered his uncanny ability to track a bad guy, his agility and his friendly personality.

A veteran of the Gwinnett County Police Department for more than five years, many memories of K-9 Beny's exciting life as a police dog were recounted by all who attended as he was laid to rest at the Oak Rest Pet Gardens in Dacula on Thursday afternoon.

Officers and friends from around the county gathered as Beny's casket was carried into the Garden of Honor by a six-man honor guard and placed alongside 34 other faithful K-9s.

Having lived at home with handler John Surowiec and his family for most of his career days, the 13-year-old German Shepherd was well into retirement when he suffered a debilitating stroke and was put to sleep Monday.

"They're just a such a part of the family," Surowiec said. "He was a great dog ... a lot of fond memories."

With fellow K-9s' barks echoing in the background, Beny's trainer and first handler Lawrenceville officer Emory Griffith spoke to a intimate crowd, recalling Beny's small stature but fearless heart when it came to police work.

Affectionately known to many as "Mr. B," Griffith said the dog was often brought to training sessions even after his retirement to show K-9s new on the force how the job was done.

"He caught people wanted for murder, burglaries, home invasions - he was a machine," Griffith said.

Surowiec recalled nights running after a suspect with Beny at his side, helping him execute a successful takedown and arrest.

"He was great with the family but could then change gears into a crimefighting machine," Surowiec said.

Though the handler lost a partner, he and his wife Patti and children Luke, 7, and Alex, 3, said they also lost a friend and member of the family.

With tears in his eyes, Surowiec's son Luke accepted a folded flag presented to the family by members of the honor guard.

Luke said, "No thank you," when asked if he wanted to say something about his faithful dog, but smiled when his dad showed a picture and letter Luke had drawn for Beny and placed inside his casket.

"You were a great dog," the crayon written letter read.

Many who attended the funeral called him one of Gwinnett County's finest on the force.

"He had a heart of a lion," Surowiec said.